VIDEO: St. Louis Immigration Attorney explains why going solo at immigration is almost always a bad idea

Why can’t I just handle my immigration matter myself? Why do I need an attorney? I am Jim Hacking, Immigration Attorney here in St. Louis, Missouri. We had two people come into the office recently, both who tried to file for an immigration benefit on their own. Interestingly they’re both marriage cases and interestingly too, both cases were screwed up because the people tried to go it alone.

I don’t mean to beat a dead horse and we talk about this a lot. I just can’t stress the importance enough of working with a good immigration attorney. Let me tell you about these two cases.

In the first scenario, a young man had been in the United States on an F1 student visa and had fallen out of status about two years ago. That is, he dropped out of school and he didn’t return back to his home country after the grace period had expired. He stayed here an extra two years and he fell in love and he married a U.S. citizen. He thought that it would be okay for him to go ahead and file for a spouse visa and a green card and it was okay. He can adjust status and he could have gotten his case approved.

Half way through the process the immigration service asked him to provide tax returns and other documents showing that his spouse and their co-sponsor could support him. Part of the marriage-based visa process is that the U.S. citizen agrees to file what’s called an Affidavit of Support. They demonstrate that they can financially support the alien spouse. He went ahead and filed the Affidavit of Support.

He also sent in what he thought were the tax returns, but as it turns out the tax returns were only the W2s. This case never even made it to the interview stage. It got denied at the service center and they denied it for failing to reply to the RFE correctly. This is a very simple mistake. Now this young man faces the possibility of being into deportation proceedings. I don’t think it’s particularly likely that that’s going to happen, but at the very least he’s going to have to re-file for his green card, pay a new filing fee, and most importantly wait, wait, wait.

His case is going to be delayed at least six months, if not longer. There’s a chance his case could get referred to the immigration court for deportation proceedings. It’s a big old mess because he waited until after the case was long denied to consult with an immigration attorney. That’s really sad. It’s not so much about that he could have hired us, it’s more about the fact that he really screwed up his case. He really made a mistake that was easily avoidable.

In the second case, it was another marriage case. A man was in the United States; he had entered without inspection. That is he had snuck into the country. He’s been married to a U.S. citizen for twelve years and he thought he could go ahead and file a spouse visa and there might some way for him to adjust status here in the United States. There is a way, but it’s not the way he thought it was going to happen.

His case has been approved by the immigration service temporarily. It’s been sent to the National Visa Center. Now he’s scratching his head trying to figure out what it is that he can do to keep his case alive. It turns out that he would have to get a waiver of his entering without inspection. While that’s possibly, again it’s a very difficult thing to prove. In order to do that he would have to show that his wife would suffer extraordinary hardship. That is, more hardship than anyone else having a spouse deported.

Unfortunately for this couple they don’t really have any mechanism or any basis on which to allege that it would be extraordinary hardship for this lady. She doesn’t have any illnesses or depression or any kind of real serious consequence that would keep her from being either able to go with her husband or to live separated from him. It’s unlikely that he’s going to get a waiver. Again, they’ve wasted all this time and all this energy. It’s all because they hadn’t consulted with a competent immigration attorney at the outset.

We don’t say these stories to berate people or make them feel bad. We only say it to implore you to consult with an immigration attorney early on in the process. Make sure you’re getting good advice. You wouldn’t skip going to a doctor and then operate on your leg or prescribe yourself some medicine. There’s a reason that immigration attorneys practice immigration law. These situations can be very sad. Most importantly we can help people overcome these hurdles if the law allows.

The fact is that if you’re not a lawyer, if you don’t study immigration law, you just don’t know the law. If you have any questions about this or any other type of case give us a call, 314-961-8200. Or you can e-mail me, jim@hackinglawpractice.com . Thanks.